London goes all-out to ring in Lunar New Year

Updated: 2014-01-30 02:43

By Zhang Chunyan in London (China Daily)

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Lunar New Year has become increasingly popular in Britain as businesses and cultural groups prepare to celebrate the festival.

The Madame Tussauds wax museum in London kicked off the celebration on Jan 29 with its imported figures of Chinese martial arts masters Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, brought in from the museum's Hong Kong and Shanghai branches. Visitors to London's Chinatown were allowed to pose for pictures with the action heroes ahead of the figures' temporary move to the London museum on Jan 31.

London goes all-out to ring in Lunar New Year 

 A woman passes a Lunar New Year display at Harrods department store in London on Jan 29. Zhang Chunyan / China Daily

The famous London Eye will be transformed into a glowing ring of vibrant red on Thursday night as the giant Ferris wheel on the River Thames marks the arrival of the Chinese New Year.

"London will be the best place in Europe to celebrate the Year of the Horse," London Mayor Boris Johnson said.

"The horse is an appropriate symbol for what makes our city tick and prosper. It is a powerful yet humble creature, associated with hard work and steadfastness, attributes that London and its population share and qualities that are vital for our city's future success and prosperity."

A celebration will take place in Trafalgar Square on Feb 2, highlighted by an array of stage shows from Chinese troupes that will perform acrobatics, traditional dances and a gravity-defying lion dance on high poles.

One of the key attractions will be the Little Red Flower Art Troupe's exquisite variety show, performed by children from Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province.

Alongside the festivities in Trafalgar Square, a stage in London's Chinatown will host performances from local performers and up-and-coming talent. The Beijing Young Cultural Ambassadors will also make their London debut with a presentation of Chinese opera.

Chinatown is always the center of the Lunar New Year party. Chu Ting Tang, president of the London Chinatown Chinese Association, said the area will be a hive of activity, with traditional craft stalls and food stands outside restaurants. People can sample the delicious range of Chinese regional cuisine there, he said.

In February, the British Film Institute will present Spectacular China, a series of films from renowned Chinese director Feng Xiaogang.

Waitrose, a well-known British supermarket chain, set up a special counter in its stores to provide suitable food such as Chinese noodles to celebrate.

"I have felt a strong and happy Chinese New Year atmosphere in Britain in recent years," said Xu Xi, who has lived in London for more than 20 years.

"The growing influence of Chinese culture abroad gives British people more of a taste of Chinese New Year," she said. Many of her British friends and neighbors know 2014 is the Year of Horse, and wish her "Xin nian kuai le", or "Happy New Year", she added.

Luxury department store Harrods has also conjured up activities for the Year of Horse to attract high-spending Chinese shoppers. Its renowned Brompton Road windows have come to life with horse-inspired displays in vibrant red and gold hues. Since early January, the displays have showcased products across the store, including many exclusive Chinese New Year gifts.

Chinese shoppers now can use their own currency at China UnionPay terminals and claim back the British value-added tax from their purchases at many British stores.

The stores prepared Mandarin-speaking shopping guides and Chinese language guidebooks to welcome Chinese shoppers for Chinese New Year and Golden Week celebrations.